Courtesy photos, clockwise from top left: Dale Robinette / Summit Entertainment; Decca Records; Steve Silvas, Capitol Records/EMI; Roger Kisby, Getty Images.

Courtesy photos, clockwise from top left: Dale Robinette / Summit Entertainment; Decca Records; Steve Silvas, Capitol Records/EMI; Roger Kisby, Getty Images.

Richie has interviewed some of the biggest figures in music, film, television, and radio, including Jeff Goldblum, Brian Wilson, Emma Stone, Ira Glass, the 1975, The Flaming Lips, Sigur Rós, Conan O'Brien, Neko Case, Anderson Cooper, Sharon Jones, "Weird Al" Yankovic, and many others. Richie also occasionally writes outdoor columns about hiking. 

Selected Interviews & Features

Interview: Brian Wilson and Al Jardine, by Richie DeMaria

Few bands are as legendary as The Beach Boys, and few song catalogues more well-known. When original members Brian Wilson and Al Jardine come to The Arlington with openers The Zombies, they will delve into a pair of lesser-known albums, Friends and Surf’s Up, along with the hits. It will be a special evening of some of the best psychedelic pop ever recorded. I spoke with Wilson and Jardine about the tour, the Zombies, and revisiting old songs. 

Brian Wilson

How are you today? Good.

How has the tour been going so far? So far, so good.

What inspired this Something Great From ‘68 Tour?  I wanted The Zombies to tour with me.

Were you a fan of the band and their album Odesee and Oracle in its time? Yes, and yes I was. I like their harmonies. 

Would you say The Beach Boys and The Zombies inspired one another as musicians? I think so, yes.

What songs have you had the most fun revisiting? I like the Surf’s Up and the Friends album. 

Have you been rearranging any of the songs, or keeping true to the studio version? The studio versions.

What are listening to these days? Are there any contemporary artists you enjoy? Not really. I don’t listen to current music. I only listen to oldies-but-goodies.

Do you have any favorite artists from back then? I don’t have any favorites.

What brings you joy these days? Watching television kind of brings me joy. 

Any specific shows? The news.

How do you feel about playing in Santa Barbara? I’ve been many times. Mike Love, my cousin Mike, had a ranch in Santa Barbara.

Have you been working on any new material lately? No, I haven’t.

Has your relationship to the ‘68 era songs changed at all over the decades? No, not really, no.

How are things with Al Jardine? You two have played for so long together! He’s still a great singer, a great singer.

Any venus or cities you’re especially looking forward to for this tour? No, I like all of them.

How do you relax these days, or what brings you a sense of calm? Uh, not really anything.

Anything you’d like to say to the fans of S.B.?: I just hope they like the concert. 

Al Jardine:

So Santa Barbara, huh? 

Yeah, I’m lucky to be from here. Are you looking forward to coming back?: Yeah, Mike Love used to have a house there on the beach — what was the name of that street, overlooking the ocean? He had a beautiful spot, and that was the nearest faraway place for us. We’d come from LA, and recorded a couple of songs in post-70s era. They weren’t very, you know — they’re movie soundtracks, really, is what they were. It was the soundtrack for a movie called Americathon. Kind of esoteric stuff, nothing to scream about. Nice memories, a little studio in S.B.  

How were the Friends and Surfs Up days, and do those sessions have any personal significance for you?: Oh, it was great. We’re relearning our past, our more recent past. We’ve been doing hits for years, and this is a whole different period of time, and it’s kind of encapsulates the late ‘60s into the early ‘70s. Friends and Surf’s Up in the same show, it’s kind of cool. “Something Great From ‘68.” There were kind of a couple of really cool songs, and we were just being friends and writing songs together and experiencing that more optimistic time of writing new music. It was a lot of fun.  

Are there any songs from that time in particular that stand out to you?: “Be Here In The Morning.” Just a crazy little song, just silly, kind of a banter, kind of fun, nothing serious, just fun. We were having fun together, writing songs together, singing again, in the studio in Brian’s studio. Now Brian built a studio in his home, so we kind of congregated there at his place, as opposed to the big studios. We had a lot of fun writing and writing together  as friends, and Friends is the title song of the album. It’s really very fun stuff. Surf’s Up is a little deeper. It gets quite heavy. You can tell the difference in tone.

Was revisiting Surf’s Up difficult at all?": In what way?

I imagine the emotional source material for some of the songs was difficult, like for Brian...: I asked him that same question. He didn’t seem to mind. He handles “Surf’s Up,” he’s singing “Til I Die.” There’s a lot of emotional baggage there, and you know, yeah, you’d think it would be a little bit more difficult, but he’s handling it beautifully.

Have you gained any new perspectives on the songs?: Yeah. I have a little different perspective on the music, like this song called “Looking at Tomorrow.” It’s a very optimistic kind of tune, and we’ve rearranged it a little bit to reflect a little more R&B approach. It’s really fun. And so Blondie Chaplin sings a couple of songs from Surf’s Up, “Long Promised Road” and “Feel Flows,” nice little songs written by Carl Wilson. There’s a little Brian, a little bit of Al.

What has kept you and Brian together creatively or collaboratively over the years?: Well, the music. Any anniversary style approach to the music makes you dig a little deeper. You definitely have to keep sharp, and that keeps us together, keeps us sharp. As long as the band is sharp, Brian and I are sharp. They do the homework, the digging, and all we really have to do is sing, sing our best. We still have our voices, which is nice. My son Matt Jardine has these amazing falsetto parts Brian used to sing. He compliments our vocals on stage quite nicely, very nicely, so I’m very happy for him. I have a show called the Postcard From California Trio that I do when I’m not with Brian, and we do a lot of these same songs only in a much more simplified way. I basically start from the first song we ever recorded, take people through the different eras, and Matt compliments that beautifully. In fact, I was going to play Santa Barbara, but Brian booked his show first. I’m coming back for you guys, Santa Barbara… 

If you look back at the beginning, did you expect to have this impact and legacy?: No, not a chance. We were just having fun, having fun around the piano. Dennis came up with a great idea to write a song about surfing, and that’s how it started. Just a very innocent kind of folk song, really, a folk song, a little mini folk song. It’s the tradition I came from, and I consider those early songs like folk songs.  They are real things that happened in our lives: surfing, cars, girls, the whole deal. Then it got a little more serious with Surf’s Up, and Pet Sounds, and Smile. We do all that in the show. We capture that. We open with some hits, then we start reflecting, then we go back to the hits.

 Anything you’d like to say to the fans in Santa Barbara?: Stay safe, enjoy your life, enjoy your blessed lives to be living in a place like that, and you know, we call it the nearest faraway place, it’s kind of neat. 


** Transgender Life in Santa Barbara - December 15, 2016, Santa Barbara Independent - CNPA 1st Place Award Winner for Non-Profile Feature **  

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